Dixon Jones SEO Pioneers
Dixon Jones – SEO Pioneer
Dixon Jones has been in the industry since 1995 when he moved his murder mystery business online. His story is wide reaching right up to where he is invited to Buckingham Palace twice. And gets told off by Princess Anne.
Dixon is best known as being the ambassador for Majestic SEO, and now as the ambassador for Inlinks.
Plenty of discussion about Majestic, links, knowledge graph and entities, Dixon offers an insight into his incredible expertise and wealth of experience.
In this interview, Dixon talks about:
02:10 How Dixon took his murder mystery business online in 1995 and didn’t buy murdermysery.com
10:59 How Dixon found his first client working for Mohammed Al Fayed
13:59 How Receptional was formed in 1990
16:08 How Dixon wanted to be a manager since he was a child and wanted to be in control of his own life
19:54 How Dixon began to connect with others in the industry
21:43 How Dixon’s business partner made the first ever ‘SEO is dead’ post in 1999
23:06 How Dixon got his first speaking gig from Danny Sullivan at SES
23:37 How he pitched to Figleaves and what he did when Spannerworks got the gig
26:21 How using his brand on the forums made him mindful that he was posting
32:05 The first time he ventured to the US and ended up at a swinger’s conference
34:08 How investing in his personal brand paid off
35:31 How he became involved with Majestic
39:13 How much prominence he put on links in SEO & how he figured out relevancy was an important factor
42:27 About how Majestic topical TrustFlow works
44:04 How he has never been able to rank for his own name
47:59 What other industries Majestic as a tool has application for
49:37 Why he wanted to work with Majestic
50:54 How he developed the idea about how Google was building a knowledge graph
55:38 How AI might integrate into search
57:31 How entities are so important to content
01:05 Why he left Majestic to retire
01:08 And why he came back to work at Inlinks
01:11 Does he regret not buying murdermystery.com
01:14 What is his drivng factor, search or business
01:15 Why he has been invited to Buckingham Palace twice and why Princess Anne told him off
Subscribe to my YouTube channel so you don’t miss out on new episodes coming soon.
SEO Pioneers – Dixon Jones Transcript
Shelley Walsh: Hello and welcome to SEO Pioneers. My pioneer today is Dixon Jones, who’s probably best known as the Ambassador and MD for Majestic Link Intelligence tool, which he was for many years. He’s currently the CEO of InLinks and what Dixon doesn’t know about knowledge graph and SEO isn’t worth knowing.
So I’m very much looking forward to having a chat to Dixon to find out where it all began and getting his. Backstory. Dixon hi, it’s really nice to have you
Dixon Jones: here. Hi, Shelley. No, thank you ever so much for inviting me. I’ve been seeing the the videos coming along, and they’re really exciting, and all my friends are on them.
I wanted to be there.
Shelley Walsh: It’s a pleasure to have you here. I believe that you left university around 88, 89, and you were running the Students Union at that time with about 100 staff, is that right? And you set up a murder mystery business.
Dixon Jones: Yeah, that’s how I learned about SEO, really. No, this was way before, so 88, 89.
Yeah, I was writing murder mystery evenings, where every guest at a dinner party is a character in a murder mystery. I was and they all had. They were very interactive. I could do them with less actors if they were interactive. So everyone was a character and I could have the murderer as one of the guests and stuff.
And then I gave them all money and props and stuff like that. And over the course of dinner, they were trying to work everything out, but they were also trying to they were also trying to make money or try to do other objectives and things as well. So it’s role playing for the non geeks.
Shelley Walsh: So how did you think that the murder mystery business could benefit from being online? Back in 95, obviously it was very early days. What was the jump there?
Dixon Jones: So I think what happened is as the internet started coming out somebody tried to sell me murdermystery. com and out of the blue.
And I didn’t even have a website, but I then realized that’s. What I might need to do. I then did some analysis and decided that actually people weren’t looking for murder mysteries. They were looking for murder mystery games, and that was much more targeted for my audience. So I should props get mob murder, mystery games, go to UK.
Cause I hadn’t really realized about the. com. And to realize I could get that for 5 and so I thought why am I going to spend lots of money on this murdermystery. com when I can get the actual phrase that people are typing in and then I just went to. The only thing I did right was instead of getting a hosting company like everybody else at GoDaddy or whatever or, it was probably before, before GoDaddy I went for an I S P where I could see the building.
I was and I was, so when I drove from the office back home, it was this building that was a an I S P. And I thought, you know what? If it goes. I want to be able to knock on the door and get my data. So I didn’t quite know how I understood how it all worked, but I thought, I want to be able to go in there and get my hard drive so I can get my, my, my games back and my my, my stuff back.
So that’s why I went for that one. And they had every Thursday. a log analysis program that, that came out that updated every Thursday. And it went through the logs and it showed you, where you, where people were coming to your website and stuff, that’s like Google analytics pre any of that stuff.
And and so I could then live for this Thursday update where I could see that, I’d done some changes and now I had a visitor from Ohio and I thought. I can’t get my actors to Ohio. So that’s when I just built a whole, the whole idea of instead of having a, a game where we’re running as actors, can I maybe do a download for everybody that isn’t in the UK and I didn’t have much cash and and I didn’t have a way to turn a file into a PDF file because it had to cost lots of money. So the only way I could create this file was a 70 page TIFF file, which on a 28k modem takes an awful long time to download. Maybe we got to 56k, but basically I said, send me a check. And I’ll send you a password for this 70 page TIFF file.
And and people started sending checks. So that was my start of of my internet empire was was getting people to pay 30 pounds or 40 pounds for a 70 page TIFF file.
Shelley Walsh: Wow, that’s got to be up there with the guy that sold like a million pixels for a million pounds. That’s quite impressive
Dixon Jones: sales.
If only it had been a million. Thirty pound a time, at its height, I was selling 20 of those a day, but, but, had gone away from TIFF files by then. I had got myself to a PDF file and and automated it so you can actually just buy it. We’re, the first time I was around, I had to pretty much, the check had to come through in the post, literally from America and it came in the U S dollars and I thought I’m not going to get much cash in that.
So there was some issues with my early days, I would say, but it made me. Understand, just those Thursday files that you had to understand what the user’s head was, because if you just got into your website and they weren’t interested in the product you had, then you were going to go wrong.
If if you can’t get your actors to Ohio, then you need to adapt. And then that was a very. Quick jump when I started seeing the search terms that people were searching for into SEO. And back then, of course, there were, 50 different search engines to play with and a million different opportunities to do things.
But I wasn’t that clever. I was using I tried with front page 95, but I couldn’t get that to work. I never managed to get front page. Front page 97, I just about managed to get to work, but I, it didn’t really work until front page 98, I think. But yeah, those early days of just building a website were tough.
Shelley Walsh: So just You did, is it maths at university
Dixon Jones: Maths and Management Studies Math. Yeah. So my degree, my first degree was master management. And My maths got about, it was quite poor. I was a four year course. After about two years, I started to struggle with the maths, but the management, I was okay with.
SEO was perfect for me, really. But had
Shelley Walsh: you done any coding prior to setting up the murder mystery?
Dixon Jones: Yes and no. So I, my first computer was an Apple II. Actually, it wasn’t an Apple II. It was a clone of an Apple II. I used to live in Hong Kong and you could buy, knock off Apple IIs even back in the 80s.
And so I did remember when I was, 18 writing a sort of a ping pong table tennis game on an Apple two. At uni as a little bit of, as a little bit of programming COBOL but let’s be honest. I’m not a coder. I’m way off a coder, which is why I needed front page. There were those that could make HTML with notepad editors and those that needed Dreamweaver or front page.
And I was of the latter category. My, my notepad programming days were very short lived, I thought that’s not going to be my game. But so yeah, so bad coder,
Shelley Walsh: I was just trying to make the connection because obviously in 95, it was the web, particularly in the UK was very it.
Yeah. It just wasn’t as it was today. It was very niche. Let’s just say it was very niche. And so obviously to make that jump to, to actually establishing a website is quite a big jump at that time. Was there anything that indicated to you that the internet was going to be so important that you saw it was a
Dixon Jones: good move?
He was hitting me in the face, really. But I think what really hit me most is once front page had come out and it could have been Dreamweaver, I was also using HTML hotdog or something. There was other sort of HTML editors as well. But front page was the first WYSIWYG one that I really could get my head around, even though the first version of it didn’t work on my poor computer.
But what I realized is just how bad the business models were for the search engines at the time. So I was using Yahoo, say and Yeah, particularly Yahoo, actually, because that was a market leader right at the time. And when I got my website up I typed in murder mystery games into Yahoo and there were a bunch of results.
Mine wasn’t there, but more importantly, there was a banner ad for Adidas at the top and I thought. This is crazy. I’ve, the user that is clearly looking for, murder mysteries and the advert is for Adidas. That’s their only business model at Yahoo. So clearly the money.
Is in that detail of those results, because that’s exactly where every user is going to click. So that was a very quickly to the, they’ve got the search engines have got the business model wrong. The engineers could go in here and the engineers aren’t thinking about marketing. They’re thinking about relevancy.
So there’s a huge gap for a consultant here that can try and understand and re engineer this algorithm, which I later learned was, getting called search engine optimization. But but at the time I hadn’t heard the phrase, I just thought. Immediately, what is this this methodology here and how can I manipulate it?
And then starting to change your website around and seeing over time on most of the search engines, not all of them things change. Some of them were quick, but most of them were, took some time to to update your stuff. But that was that was great. And then. Yeah. So as soon as I did that, and I got lots of people coming to my website, even though it was slow and there weren’t that many people, I could see how that was going to grow very quickly.
So there’s only so much you can money you can make running murder mystery evenings for a living. So it was time to move on. It managed to pay for my honeymoon. And also I met my wife at a murder mystery, but but then I, I had to move up and, grow up a little bit.
And the internet seemed to be a really good opportunity for going to the next level. And I could, so I could take my murder mystery company, make an online version of it, a dedicated online version. So you just downloaded and you didn’t worry about actors and all the other bits and pieces. And that was where I learned the basics.
And then my wife. Got another job working for for Mohammed Al Fayed actually. And he, she was working for a block of apartments in Park Lane. Sort of short term lets and I found myself going to their Christmas do and and shortly before that, talking to her manager about, about this search engine optimization thing. They just got a new website. And they use frames and to double all these sorts of things that, were bad for SEO at the time. And an hour before the Christmas party, I’d got my first customer really. So that was it.
Shelley Walsh: was the Park Lane Apartments, not Harrods, obviously.
Dixon Jones: Yeah not Harrods. I did do a couple of things talking with Harrods Estates and a few other bits and pieces. But but yeah, my, yeah doing things for for the apartments was the the first main customer for me. Which was nice.
Shelley Walsh: So had you actually intended to pursue that path or did it just come to you?
Dixon Jones: I hadn’t quite got it right at the start, so I knew that the internet was my thing. And then I, so I set up this company, so I got a thing called Receptional, I bought receptional. com and which I no longer have any connection with whatsoever, except, I was the founder, but when I originally used the phrase.
I was thinking about setting up a virtual call center where mums and and people were, people that were at home with kids or whatever could use a, there was a telephone, BT had his telephone system that allowed you within a certain area to, to use different, the same, a sort of a virtual telephone network.
And I thought that was really good for a. Business idea where you could have people basically working from home, earning money. And if we could just find a way to to coordinate all the bits and pieces, then you could have virtual call centers basically running from, anywhere in England or Ireland or, in the, in, in the UK. So that was my original idea for how I was going to use the internet. And so I was going to create this business. And frankly, that’s really boring. Yeah, a virtual call center is, I’m glad I didn’t because of course, other countries are much more cost effective at setting up virtual call centers and also a lot more.
Adept at technology than me. So that kind of was the original idea and that’s where the, my agency name came from and I was still at a loss and I I was thinking of becoming a teacher, actually, because I pulled back from the Murder Mystery Company, the actor’s part of the Murder Mystery Company, still running the the, it was definitely running the the online PDF downloads.
But then I thought, maybe I’ll become a teacher. And I went to this two day course on becoming a teacher because they wanted maths teachers, especially. And, and the ladies there that were running it said, yeah, of course, sometimes you come away from work in tears because you’ve had such a terrible day and stuff like that.
And that’s just part of it, but, and I thought but I don’t need to, I don’t need to come away from here and cry. And so coffee on the first morning, I met this guy. David, who was an ex lecturer at Cranfield University, and he was also, at a loss, and he hadn’t quite figured out what he was going to do with the rest of his life.
I had got Hyper Residence as a customer. I’d also got a lead from from a major car company, a big brand. And what they wanted me to do is to look at everybody else’s, every other car manufacturer’s website and look at the price changes and all the changes on their websites and things, which bit off the wall, but good money.
Coffee on the fourth, first morning, I was chatting to him. And we went into business together. That’s how Receptional turned into a proper business. Before it was an idea for a virtual call center, but by the time I’d met David, we went into search engine optimization. How Receptional
Shelley Walsh: for?
Dixon Jones: So that
went limited in 1990, 1999. And I was, I don’t know when I physically was completely out, but in my head, everything was 10 year. Trump changing your transits. So by 2009, I was marketing director of majestic, but I still hadn’t quite completely got out of reception, but I wasn’t running it. And then 2000, 10 years later after that, I it moved to move sideways from majestic. And now I’m on my third decade of, third or fourth decade of of business ideas, 1999 to around about 2008, nine, I was I was really receptional primarily. Although around about 2007, Majestic became a client of receptionals and that very quickly moved into a, a whole different relationship.
Shelley Walsh: You think cause you did, management was part of your uni course. And then obviously you set up, you were running the student’s union and then you were set up your Metamystery business and the receptional, do you think you’re predominantly driven by entrepreneurism rather than as much of a passion for the internet?
Do you think it’s just about actually having businesses?
Dixon Jones: I very much wanted to always be, when I was a kid when I was eight I remember being at a party, when you’re a kid and the parents are all at the party and you think, I’m the only kid at this party. And so somebody said, what do you want to do when you grow up?
Young man. And I said, manager, and they said manager of what? And I said, I don’t think that’s relevant. May not have word news, the word relevant, but that doesn’t matter. It’s not important what I’m a manager of. I want to be a manager. So yes, I would say entrepreneurialism when I was at school.
And the three by three Rubik’s cube came out, I thought about how it was made, then broke it apart and realized it was made differently and then thought the the way I think it was made, you can make a four by four. So when then went out to try and find the forms for a four by four Rubik’s cube patent.
I couldn’t understand the form, so I never got that far, but anyway so yeah, I always wanted to, I think run my own business because I felt that the only way I can get myself a, freedom, I think, is working for yourself. I didn’t like the idea particularly of… I don’t like rules really. I don’t like other people’s rules. I accept I have to do them. I haven’t been to jail, thankfully. I, I’m scared of, I’m scared of the tax man. I’m scared of the of police waving me down in the middle of the road.
I’m scared to death of everything. But but I don’t. Have to go and live in rules that, if I don’t have it by somebody else’s rules, then I’d rather avoid it. So I’d rather work for myself. So I never really wanted to be. Running, you’re running a country company on the NASDAQ or anything.
I just wanted to be running my own in control of my own life. So yeah, entrepreneurialism was the heart of it, but the internet gave you scale, gave the opportunity for scale. That you don’t have if you’re running a corner shop. Yeah, I relate
Shelley Walsh: to what you’re saying a hundred percent. I always have the same feeling myself about yeah, having my own freedom.
Very important. So it’s, what is it? 95 and you’ve just reception has just gone limited.
Dixon Jones: No reception didn’t go limited until 1999. So I, sorry. Nine, five, excuse me. Yeah, nine, five. The murder mystery game stuff started in I I would say it only started really in 1997 because I know I was using front page 97 and I could get somewhere with that.
But Yeah. And then 1999, it became a proper company, but we still, then when we paying a proper company, we still had to pay by the minute for the internet in the UK, which was really annoying. So we started from a front bedroom. I employed a guy, so me, David and Stephen it was my first employee.
We were still in my front bedroom. That must’ve been that that was. I remember my daughter getting born on 7th of January, 2000. And changing a nappy on the , on the on the dining room table. So it, that was, we were well going by 1999, but as soon as my daughter arrived, I realized I actually, I had a different job in life and I had to be, I couldn’t be playing around with murder mystery games anymore.
earn proper money so I’d already got there, but yeah, it didn’t really take off for me until 1999. It as an SEO professional before that I was doing SEO as a, as a, getting murder mystery games running and making money on the initial dot com boom that way, if you like.
Shelley Walsh: So it’s 1995 reception. Sorry, I’ve just said it again. It’s 1999, Dixon. And Receptional is a limited company. Yes. So how did you start to connect with, in the industry, other SEOs?
Dixon Jones: So I think my I so I saw you talking with Brett, I was PubCon1 I think, I can’t remember if I was at PubCon1, or whether I was at the PubCon1 that Brett was at but I certainly do remember the the PubCon that, that was with the second one at the city of York, but the first one that people mostly remember and and that was a pretty powerful event.
So I’d already by this stage got to webmaster world, which means that we’ve already gone through several years of, of being on gym tools and gym world and stuff. So I got a lot of my stuff on gym world and I create a site was out there as well. But by the time we. Got to to 1999 webmaster world, I think was in existence.
And I was getting engaged in webmaster world. And then, but the first proper. One I went to was I think that PubCon, no, there was a search engine strategies before that I spoke at a search engine strategies with Danny Sullivan and I, the interesting thing about that, it was in a hotel in London and I’m pretty I’m.
I think Sergei was sitting at, Sergei was sitting in the corner of the bar at that particular one, I think, but it’s probably just my imagination, but I went in there and I remember thinking Danny Sullivan was the big cheese in the SEO industry, the biggest cheese I’ve met so far, and I was clearly not the only one that was sucking up to Danny Sullivan and and looking back and I remember this guy sitting in the corner in the bar.
Just looking around at the world and I’m pretty sure it was Sergei, but I, but we’ll see, we will, we’ll never know. But yeah, there was a search engine strategies and pubcom, both of those in London. And they really kicked off this whole idea of networking and finding so many other people that were involved in SEO.
And and at that one I just posted something on Actually, David, my business partner, just posted something on Jim, Jill Whalen’s forums about SEO is dead. So 1999, SEO is dead. And of course he was doing it for clickbait. And it got such a venomous. Reaction and I remember Barry Lloyd coming in and defending defending me.
I didn’t really know Barry Lloyd at all, but we’d talked about, talked about a few things on other threads and he defended receptional. And at the time we, it was interesting. So we got into the and Mark Garwell from webplacing where it wasn’t webplacing then yeah, it was webplacing then we got together at this PubCon and this thing called Google had just come out.
And we’d already got the idea that ink to me was using links as well. So we talked about the idea of linking to each other as three SEOs and linking to each other. And for quite some time, the three of us were top three for search engine optimization in the UK. Just because three, three SEOs linked to each other which was pretty good, really.
So that’s when you’ll. The power of networking and also the start of links was was important. And then of course I went to Orlando and everything took off.
Shelley Walsh: How did you get the first speaking gig at SCS?
Dixon Jones: So I just applied, I just sent an email to Danny and said you’re coming over to the UK and and I’d like to talk if, if And I got to talk and I can’t remember whether I was, whether PPC had come out at that time.
I know I definitely did talk at an SES on PPC and I’m not a PPC expert, but back then, it was it was quite, quite a big thing, but I remember, pitching so I definitely talked about PPC and it may have been because of go to or Overture as it later became, because I remember that one of the first websites I pitched to do SEO for was Fig Leaves who are an underwear company.
And so I pitched and they were nearby, I was living in oh, this was quite a while back. Cause I was still living in Mill Hill, I think. But but went to pitch and they were in a warehouse and they were really proud of their their. com, boom approach.
And I talked about SEO. I thought I did a really good pitch. And they sounded like they really liked it. And I thought, yes, I’ve got it. I’ve got my first real customer. Cause obviously the first customer is, my, my wife’s boss and And then I found that they gave it to Spannerworks, which really pissed me off.
So this company in Brighton had got the, I got the job probably cause they were a proper company and I was just muggins. And but definitely FreeSurf had started to take on using GoTo, which was a pay per click system where basically instead of having a. A regular thing you could buy the top results.
So I bought womensunderwear. net and I did a hundred percent frame cause iframes didn’t exist at the time. And frames fig leaves website paid five pence a click to be number one for the phrase women’s underwear. And I sent them an email saying, I understand you went with Spannerworks. I didn’t say thanks for don’t telling me, not telling me.
But anyway, I said, but anyway since you’ve done that, I’ve got your number one on free serve, which was the biggest ISP at the time. How’s Spannerworks doing? And which probably wasn’t very professional, but, but they were there, and they emailed back saying, have you ever heard of affiliate marketing?
So I became big leaves one of fig leaves, top five affiliates for the next five or 10 years. And I couldn’t, that was that really. Yeah, I didn’t realize that I was one of their top affiliates, but yeah, a hundred percent frame for women’s underwear. net. We got a little bit more sophisticated later on, but not much.
So it was blue collar cloaking.
Shelley Walsh: I’m absolutely amazed. I think if I’d have been fig leaves, I was, I would have been on the phone to Spannerworks and Sacramento, and I’d run you in the door very quickly.
Dixon Jones: But at the time, there were some bright people at Spannerworks. It’s certainly, I’m sorry, if I’m sure there are bright people at Spannerworks now, but but back in the day, I was just one guy and who knew if what I was saying was right or wrong, really.
I I did know how to get you to number one, position on FreeServe and it involved PPC. So that’s how I got to talk at search engine strategies, I think.
Shelley Walsh: So did you actively target building your name and your brand in the industry? Is that something you went after, or were you just,
Dixon Jones: was it just?
So one thing that I did that was different to most people, particularly on Webmaster World, the early days of Webmaster World. Everybody was going in under a pseudonym. And I, and the way that Brett’s terms and conditions were set up, you weren’t allowed to go and advertise on webmaster world at all, but receptional didn’t sound like a very advertising kind of words, I just signed up with my handle being receptional and that immediately made it.
Completely obvious who I was really. So firstly, they didn’t ban me going in, which was just lucky, but secondly, it meant that I couldn’t hide behind behind the handle really. So I was always very, it was always very obvious who I was and I could see that the more you went down that route, the more you couldn’t.
Talk about a lot of the blackout things that were going on. You had to keep your reputation. If I was going to go from whatever I wage, what age was I was then to, to now and not be, killed, then I needed to try and avoid too much scandal along the way. Yeah, I was very conscious of the fact that very early on this thing could reputate, ruin reputations if you got it wrong.
And having made the positive decision to use my handle as my brand. I realized that dictated a lot of my choices along the way. You were you a
Shelley Walsh: moderator at Webmaster
Dixon Jones: World? I was, yeah, I wasn’t initially. And then I wanted to become a moderator for sure, because the power of being a moderator was just exciting.
And I could see that the MSN forum within Webmaster World was dusky and no one wanted to be in it. No, first I went into the analytics forum because at the time I knew analytics. I wouldn’t say I know any analytics now, really, I completely distrust it. And but then this MSN forum was dusty and no one was in there.
And I thought, you know what, I’ll apply to be the admin for that. Moderator for that, which was great because that was just as Microsoft woke up and decided that they really wanted to go into into The search world. And so I got an awful lot of, I got, I remember getting a laptop from Microsoft, not directly because of that, but I definitely got some dinners in Las Vegas when I was going to pub cons in Vegas with with Microsoft as they were trying to work out the industry and stuff.
And so they were trying to make MSN a a proper. A proper portal and eventually being basically as it later became onto me so that was pretty good. I suddenly found myself not having to do too much work in this quiet forum, but at the same time getting the moderator’s benefits and perks and that side of things.
So that that worked out pretty well. Were you active
Shelley Walsh: on other forums?
Dixon Jones: I mostly stayed to webmaster. So there was Jim world, and then Joe Whalen’s forums. I was high rankings, a little bit, but I left David on the high rankings forums and I did, and I also create a site, but created site was it was more broader in that it was about website building and on other things as well as SEO and Webmaster World was felt so much like my home that I just, I’d stayed there really.
So it was a useful place to be. I’m technically, I’m still a moderator. They haven’t kicked me off completely.
Shelley Walsh: Did you learn a lot from Webmaster
Dixon Jones: World? Yeah, undoubtedly. I had learned a lot from before from Jim World. And I think that I lot that the, that, and I did a lot of lurking on CreativeSite and CERN and high rankings as well as forums.
But I lurked there because I was scared especially if I was going to, post as myself. And I found out a lot of people lurk, don’t they? But but jumping in and being part of the action is really useful and that really helped the networking for sure. And and then.
Then when Pubcon decided to have one in Orlando, I decided to really splash out and get, get a flight to Orlando. And and that for me was a massive great big spend. And and I, some of the people that were there were, clearly earning considerable amounts of money, or at least sounding like they were earning considerable amounts of money.
And and that was, by the time I got there, I thought, you know what? I know a lot compared to a lot of people here. So I’m not entirely, imposter syndrome is not entirely justified. I should get a little bit more confident and I, I enjoyed that because I wasn’t a speaker at Orlando but, but I got a lot of out of it. And the people that were there, I thought, you know what? I know a fair amount. I met a lot of people, got a few customers found out there was a conference on the way back. So I was, I had to fly out and change in New York. ’cause it was cheaper that way.
And going back, there was another conference in New York at Search Engine Strategies, so went back to New York and stopped there as well. I remember stopping so I remember phoning back. I had a secretary at this time, so I had grown a little bit. And and asked her to book me a park bench in New York.
So I could stop off on on, on there and go to the other conference. And she got me this hotel room, which was pretty close to Times Square, but it’s the only hotel I’ve been at where not only was there no en suite, they gave you a toilet roll. In the bedroom to take to the loo and the plastic on the on the they were selling by the hour.
There was a great, you had to go and give your money through a great and yeah, the Great American Adventure. I suspect I was the only person that didn’t have a hooker in the room in the whole hotel.
Shelley Walsh: Oh, God. I remember. So that was your first venture to a US conference then? Yeah. Oh,
Dixon Jones: I think it was my first time going to America abroad on my own as well.
’cause, and so it was pretty scary. Orlando had been scary ’cause I mean you heard on other ones about the the swingers conference that, that followed the Orlando conference, . But I had another little shock in my my, in my time as well because I was there in Orlando and I was Wanting to talk to everybody and stuff.
And I thought, I’ve got to make sure when I go out to dinner, I go with some other people, that’d be, I can’t just go on my own, so I was chatting to people and stuff and there was A while ago, we moved out and went out of the hotel to go to a to go to, I don’t know, a steakhouse or whatever we’re going to go to.
As we were going out, I said, so what do you guys do? And they said we, I, okay, it wasn’t this, but we’re Jehovah’s Witnesses, they said, or something like that. And I remember walking out of the hotel, one of them was each side of me. And I just looked around, and I turned around, and I walked back in. I thought, I’m in America, on my own, I don’t know anybody, I’ve heard some dodgy things about America.
I’m not going off with some sex that I don’t know anything about. So I can’t do this anymore. And up in New York, when I’d gone back and stopped off at this other conference, they were also… at New York. So I would, I was following you and they came up to me and said, what did we do wrong? I said, I’m sorry.
I’m sorry. I didn’t know what was happening. And I just got scared.
And now they’re the same Jehovah’s witnesses out there or whichever The Seventh day Adventists or whatever it was, but I was confused and just played it safe.
Shelley Walsh: I love the
Dixon Jones: story about that. Is that the kind of story you want on SEO Pioneers?
Shelley Walsh: You’ve seen the other episodes, right? Yeah. So how do you think that did you think that actively investing in the networking and, investing in your personal brand that really started to
Dixon Jones: pay off? No doubt, absolutely no doubt about it at all.
Because when Majestic came along the way that all started Was that I, so Yahoo Site Explorer was the only real way to get backlink information and Tim Mayer and the guys at Yahoo had set it up pretty much to piss off Google and to undermine Google, I think, and we were all using that data.
And then this other little tool was came out that was in a beta kind of mode. And so I tried it one day and it was so badly marketed. Basically I had to give them, pay them 10 pounds and they would give me 10 pounds worth of backlink data. Which I could choose and then the money stocked and stuff.
And so I thought, Oh, that’s great. Okay. I’ll spend 10 pounds, try to get my backlink data for a site. It broke. It just said error 500 response. And so off on the support tickets, assuming that this is just another dot com, multimillion pound organization. And, I got this email back from this guy who had clearly built the whole damn thing and saying awfully sorry fixed it it all works now and here’s another 50 pounds worth of credits for your troubles.
And I thought okay it’s a smaller organization than I thought. And and then I looked at it. And they weren’t using the Yahoo API. They actually had crawled the internet to find all the backlink information. Cause it’s, and I thought, you know what? I know everybody that needs this product.
So I invited the founder of Majestic. I’m not the founder of Majestic at all down to business travel to to to I think it was a search engine strategies in the business design center by then. And said, I’ll meet, I’ll introduce you to a few people. And within about 15 minutes of this guy coming down, I’d introduce him to Danny Sullivan and to Brett Tabka was there.
Dave Naylor was there. I think Matt Cutts was around as well. So I’d gone through a bunch of people that he’d. That he knew, but he never thought he’d, get in contact with. And at the end of that meeting it was fairly obvious that I would really like to push Majestic.
And so what I wanted was, to get involved with Majestic. Or Majestic 12, as it was called at the time and and with Alex, but Alex didn’t have any money. So receptional, he couldn’t just pay receptional cash. So he came up with deals and stuff. And that eventually ended up, me being, the marketing director of Majestic after about, 12 months of, playing around with some agreements and stuff as to how we were going to play it.
But clearly I was willing to do it for the. For the gamble. And I’m really glad I did. It worked well for me. And Yeah. So if Majestic hadn’t done very well, so my receptional colleagues were quite skeptical about it actually, because they had some, some decent clients, there’s some big clients out there that were giving us reasonably good amounts of money.
We’re about 20 people as an agency side. And I wanted to work with this guy who didn’t have any employees and was trying to run a search engine from his living room. And but I had faith in it, so they let me go with it really, but ultimately that then, I moved away from my own agency and and into receptional really.
And eventually we did a management buyout at receptional. Justin and the team took it over and. Run it and anything I say now doesn’t have any sway with the reception or what to have because I’m not even a shareholder.
Shelley Walsh: What year was it that you
Dixon Jones: joined Majestic? So I think we became a, I think we became an item, so to speak, in probably
2007, 2008. And then about 2009, I became full time. At Majestic, so I was a couple for a couple of years. Effectively, Receptional was the the internet the sole internet marketing partner before they changed all around a bit of Majestic. It was, that was just a kind of dynamic change, really, but at 2000 by 2009, I was.
Working up in Birmingham all the time which is where Majestic’s based and by this stage, Reception was becoming a long beginning to be a distant memory for me not that it was, they were moving their own way. But I think in 2007, I just. Let me look at awards.
I’ve got the ones up here. They think the first award we got was an e consultancy award in 2007. So we must be, must’ve been well, up and running by then. But yeah, so I’d say 2007. Just going backwards.
Shelley Walsh: So before you joined Majestic, what how much investigation had you, and prominence were you putting into Lynx?
Which then led you to recognize just what Majestic had.
Dixon Jones: Oh, loads. Links were pretty big part of my of my understanding of certainly at the Google algorithm. I I’d got, I got to grits with PageRank reasonably early on. I have to say I got a lot of help from. I think it was a post by Aaron Wall, a SEO book who it may not have been, memory kind of phase, but somebody explained PageRank really well.
If he showed me the maths, I went that’s that. But once I really understood it. Life became a lot easier. And so I knew the difference between good links and bad links. And so I was well into links before before I got involved in Majestic. Of course it was really easy in the early days to get links.
You could press S. Button on, on top dog and, registered with 2000 search engines or directories. You didn’t know what they were, but they all worked. Or web position gold was a big thing tool I used and that had a submission service as well. I noticed that, a couple of the other guides have mentioned where position gold and the great thing about Orlando.
is, I think that’s when they got blueline. jpg, which is basically if you wanted to create pages, they would create your own page for you on WebPosition Gold. And it was all these doorway pages, but they use this line, this image called blueline. jpg. And as soon as I saw that, I thought, that’s dodgy because it’s easy to see that you could just.
If you’re, if I was a search engine, I could see every web page that had that blue line dot JPG, but in the advanced settings, you could change the name of that file. So that was great. So I did that. So I didn’t get done by, didn’t get done by the same update that everybody else got done by, because I changed that that line, but also I most of the time, so I hadn’t created a door page doorway page in that way anyway, I’d created a proper doorway page, but I, when I did create a doorway page, I’d made sure I got rid of that glue line.
jpg. Cause it just looked like a massive, great, big red flag to me. So that was good. Anyway, but the link stuff. Yeah. So I was well into the link stuff. And and enjoying it because I was enjoying it. In a bit of an Eric Ward kind of way in that I was seeing links as a good channel for business.
So I wasn’t really getting overly concerned on, link counts. I was getting concerned about, why people travel around and click around the internet and how could I use. A link into my website as a way of increasing my decreasing my knowledge my need for search engines, to be honest with you my reliance on search engines, the more that Google became a hundred percent of the market, the more important it became to have people come to your website from other places than Google.
Now, in order to come to you from another place, other than Google, they’ve got to click on a link. So links became. Important for more than just the PageRank algorithm. They became important to survive, out survive Google. At what point were
Shelley Walsh: you connecting putting all this together and then also connecting that relevancy was an important factor for links as well.
Was this pre Majestic as well?
Dixon Jones: No to be honest with you, that was a little bit of of chicken and egg. Majestic started to come up with this concept of topical trust flow. And a lot of that thought process came from Majestic’s product or, and because probably I knew that we were working on this product probably a year before Topical Trust Flow came out, cause it was a big thing to work on where we tried to work out that, a link from a a link from a travel website had different underlying intent to a link from a finance website.
And it said a different thing about the page that it was linking to. And having come up with a technology that could do that you then had to come up with a marketing philosophy around why you would want to do that. Unfortunately Google had also been muting this concept of topical page rank without explaining it very much.
So I just had to assume that it was an extension of what we were thinking as well. So contextually relevant linking. Was a match between me thinking if Google didn’t exist, how would I get my traffic with other links? And obviously then you want relevant links. There’s no point in getting irrelevant links, but also you can start seeing that, irrelevant links could also could potentially harm your brand.
And you could see that in the maths, at least with topical trust flow, you could sit there and see that.
Nowadays it’s I used exactly the idea of a Mustang and is the Mustang, are you a horse site or are you a car site? But, there were plenty of examples way back in the day where I was using those kind of antonyms, if you like, or two words, that sound the same and they’re completely different things.
And I also learned it right from the start, by. A big mistake that I made with Dixon Jones as a name. So I was lucky enough from right in the start to, to own dixonjones. com. But I only did that because famous architects company owns dixonjones. co. uk. But they didn’t buy the.
com. So I bought the. com. Anyway, famously. For an SEO, I could never get to number one for the phrase Dixon Jones, and it’s not a difficult phrase, right? There can only be two people who really cared, and the other one was a Flash based website and they had the co. uk. It was really embarrassing. They had designed the Royal Opera House, they, there’s a massive Impressive history of 200 years of this architect company. Not 200 years, but anyway, long, long history for this company. And and regardless of the fact that they had a flash based website, they were a more significant. Source of information and I made the mistake right at the start of using the word architects all over my home page to try and get, number one for the phrase, Dixon Jones, because Dixon Jones, the architects had there at then.
So I wanted to try to jump in on that and I buggered it up completely for a long time. I confused. Myself, the search engines, my customers, because I was just trying to copy the words that were on the competitor’s page and not understanding that I should be differentiating between, the last thing I should be using is the word architects on Dixon Jones, the SEO’s page, took me forever to find out and figure it out, and I was blaming.
I was blaming Google with SEO, with about SEO conspiracy paranoia in my head for a long time. And then when Majestic came out with a search engine cause they have one the architects also won on that one as well, which is really annoying cause I knew how that works.
So yeah It’s so the context and the contextual linking came because I had, decided that this branding was important and you had to associate yourself with your product, your brand, with your product and your vertical. And then that combined with this idea of topical trust flow really started to highlight that it was important to differentiate yourself on the internet, not trying suck in all the information, all the visitors that you could, you had to try and suck in.
Just the right visitors and that changed the game and it’s changed the game forever, I think, for me.
Shelley Walsh: When you started Majestic, how much input, did you have any input into the tool and the development of the tool? Yeah,
Dixon Jones: yeah. Yeah, absolutely. So I never had, I never, at the end of the day, if you’re not the programmer, you’re you’re out.
But there was. There was a lot of input in the early days of I would say just because we could only, you could only, we’re a very small team. And I was the only one that started going out into the marketplace to, to find out what the customers wanted. So I could help with that part of things.
I couldn’t help with the underlying technology and approach, because that case that was developer driven. So our business model was it’s really we’ve got this innovation. We’re developing this innovation. What who can we sell it to, and I happen to be the person that had an affinity with the people that we could sell it to rather than.
Oh, we’re going to wake up and decide that we’re going to build for the SEO community. It’s the essay community that wanted this link graph. Cause this the link graph can, could have, plenty of other uses. Talked in Brighton last year about all the other ways in which you can use link data apart from SEO, and you can use it for all sorts of things.
But it’s the SEO industry that really had a ready to go market for it, which is why Majestic became an SEO
Shelley Walsh: tool. What other industries do you think it has application for?
Dixon Jones: It’s good because we’ve got, you’ve got the history going back for a long period of time. So you can you, it leaves fingerprints so you can see web pages that don’t exist anymore.
based on the links that are linking to those dead pages. Okay, you might have 301s in there, but if you’ve got that information, then you can see the context in which people used to like, like things. And that, that, that goes to say interesting things. You can use that to for evidence of copyrights, for example.
You certainly the link data is used for. The domain name industry, which is, maybe you may decide it’s closely associated with the SEO industry, but nevertheless, it’s effectively it’s a currency. I would suppose Moz has even more, Moz’s ranking system, domain rank or whatever.
It’s a unit of currency for evaluating websites. Being able to do that at the page level is is is pretty valuable as well. So you’ve got this concept of. Of, of its it’s a currency. It’s got historical information. You can use that as well to start spotting trends.
So there’s, somebody could take the APIs from Majestic or from other linked data sources and use it as a proxy for traffic and use that to predict the future, because a link wills precede the traffic. So if there’s a, if there’s a thousand links. Of meaning going into a particular web page, you can expect that, sooner or later, there’s going to be the impact of whatever those extra people going to that website are going to do.
So you can use it to predict the future as well as the past.
Shelley Walsh: When you first came across Majestic, what was it about the tool that you saw in it? That absolutely
Dixon Jones: The so when you. It’s really that Alex had built this himself. He had crawled the web. He was crawling billions of web pages a day from his bedroom and that kind of level of Innovation is amazing.
And I just knew that I had the customers that he would never would want to go to and he never will want to go and talk to any customers out there, and it’s it’s just, I think it was a good fit. I think it was a good fit. I could, I could get to the market, but I couldn’t create the product.
He could create the product, but couldn’t get to the market. I’d say too I’m being very unfair to Steve here because there’s, there were three of us at the director level, not two. And Steve was that gel that stuck together between. Alex is one extreme and my other extreme. ’cause we were so far apart, as people, different skill sets and and then running that that team in the middle is all Steve.
And he had to be the oh, I don’t know, the geek transposer, is that word? No,
Shelley Walsh: I should make that up. . Yeah. So what point did you begin to develop ideas about that Google was building a knowledge graph?
Dixon Jones: 2014, I think. So it was basically when Google bought Metaweb, I woke up and I’d missed Freebase.
I had seen Freebase. I hadn’t quite realized that, and it’s really annoying cause I never got I never got a an entity in Freebase. That was the easiest way for an SEO to get an entity. You could just go and register it. So I get really annoyed by Bill Hartzer, who’s one of Majestic’s ambassadors, cause he he’s got, he had a Freebase ID and I didn’t, which means he became an entity much earlier than I did, really annoying, but anyway when when.
Google bought Freebase for what sounded like an awful lot of money. I thought that’s not PageRank and why, and I don’t understand. And and Bill Sloski’s kind of moot in entities and there’s other words out there and and I’ve got to figure out why they did this because that’s too much money to just.
Spend and, on a whim, I know they’re rich, but it just presumably someone has to wake up and think, cause, cause Freebase had no way of making money. Freebase, when I, delved into, it was just a massive database. So it was basically Encarta with a bit, a little less flair.
I would say that one of the biggest mistakes that Microsoft ever made was dumping Encarta because basically that was a massive, great, big knowledge graph. And and so I then started to try and work out how. Freebase was getting embedded into Google’s thought processes, and it took me a long time to really understand it.
And I remember doing a, I remember doing a presentation at PubCon and trying to, and I found this town in Vegas, it was PubCon in Vegas, and I found this town in Nevada with apparently, according to Google, a population of. 2, 800 or something, and then a satellite map finding that it was frankly, it was I don’t know, it was lying.
It was completely wrong and starting to understand if I, if the world is going to get organized in entities, then how can we as SEOs use that to our advantage? Because what was coming out was all these rich snippets and things where, you know. Flights were coming up on the screen and you couldn’t click on the, you, you were losing your you, you felt as an SEO that you were losing your traffic to Google answers and they were just answering questions all over the place.
And for about five minutes, I, waved the flag and said, this is wrong. This is terrible. And then I thought that’s not going to get me very far. What I need to do is understand how businesses can benefit from that. Because at the same time. Other channels were coming out, Facebook and Twitters and all these other things were out there and you couldn’t, those weren’t your websites either.
So people were having conversations away from your website where they weren’t, didn’t have a, where you had control. So you had to get into the actual conversation. Rather than just having the objective of getting people to your website, you had to be able to sell your product potentially without anybody even going to your website.
And that started my thought processes for a, for entities and how I understood entities, but B, how you could market in that world and how you can market in that environment. And that philosophy, I think it’s going to Be the same with ChatGPT and OpenAI really, it’s how can you get your brand in the answers.
If you say, I want to, what’s the best vacuum cleaner? You want your brand to be in there if you’re Dyson or Shark. That’s going to be the game plan really. You need to need, and if you can get into that when people are asking more generic questions of those machines and you get your brand in there, then you can win.
But if you can’t. If your brand isn’t strong enough to stand as a, so that, people are going to buy your product regardless of where they found you and you’re going to have problems. And also the SEO industry is not going to survive if they can’t find a better way of dealing in those those more esoteric environments that are not directly related to your website.
Shelley Walsh: do you think that so chatbots, everybody’s experimenting with them a lot at the moment. And, what it looks like at the moment is people are going to be having personal assistant butlers that will personal assistants that they will, be using them on a continual basis. How do you think that is actually going to connect with what we currently and historically have known as search?
Do you think we’ll still have search and the, this of your butler will be separate or how integrated do you think there will be?
Dixon Jones: I don’t know. I think that it’s got a long way to play out, but clearly,
if you go look, science fiction wise, I think you have to go and have a look at the Borg as as the ultimate endpoint for humanity in this scenario. And it’s not that, so if you’re not a Star Trek y person, then the Borg are all these things are all connected to a hive and they’re all centrally managed by the machine and you but these balls can operate independently, but they choose not to.
If you look in politics for a similar analogy, I would say, communism is a similar analogy. So you got to a point where you have to work within the, with the operating system that’s dictated to you. And I don’t think it’s any different if you work for a large organization, either.
You’ve got to work within the rules that are put down to you. So what I don’t like about it all is that it’s. It’s restricting my, my, my freedom of choice because I am going to have to work within the rules that are put there. And now I’ve got machines putting rules in, but they may be unwritten rules, but they’re not unwritten rules because when you want to, when you’ve lost your credit card, you’ve got to phone a machine, everything is turning into talking to the machines and the and somebody set up the machine to do something for you.
It’s a very horrible situation to be in at the same time. It’s a way it’s going and in order to survive in that, if I’m a, if I’m a marketing person, I need to understand how that how I can influence that machine. So I guess I’m becoming a political operative for, for machine learning that’s what I’m doing.
Shelley Walsh: Is this why you think entities will be so important because they’re content, moving forwards as well, because they are going to be.
Seeding into, I think,
Dixon Jones: yeah, I think entities. Have become incredibly intrinsic to the way in which most algorithms now are starting to work. It makes so much sense to see to see the world, I look at it. I can look at a page of. Page of content now, and all I can see is, entity.
That’s my, my, I just sit there and say, okay, that’s breaking down into all these entities. And an entity is just a Wikipedia article, really, so it’s just, these are all the concepts that are on this page in this order. And all you need to do is to turn those entities into ID numbers on a, in a database.
And you’ve now got us. A fingerprint for every piece of content and every concept that you’re talking about is going to be talking about the same entities, maybe in slightly different orders. But, basically, those numbers then are a short form way of describing any set of, Shakespeare fine.
Off you go this there. And so it’s, it scales so much better than trying to do a search engine based around keywords or Ngrams or other methodologies. And it’s so much more versatile because an item, so an iPhone take the Eiffel Tower. The Eiffel Tower is the Eiffel Tower, regardless of which language.
Which character set you use it in that you describe it with or a horse is the same regardless of the of the character set or the language that you use, or whether you’re using slang, it doesn’t matter what you use to describe that, that, that thing called a horse. It’s a horse. Everything then stems from that, because now you can just do your maths.
If you’re a Google or a Bing or a InLinks even in one language. And it’s a language of numbers, and then you can translate it back to any other languages afterwards. And that’s actually becomes trivial. It wasn’t trivial 20 years ago, but now it’s that’s trivial compared to understanding the underlying concepts, which can be done in numbers.
So I think that this idea of moving the world’s information into sort of a neural net of ideas just made so much sense. And I think there’s a huge amount of gravity behind and capital gone behind those ideas and they’re turning out to be okay. I wouldn’t say that.
Google’s search results are better now than they were 10 years ago. I think in many ways they’re worse in the core results, but surrounding that there’s so much more richness with all the rich, the universal sort of content that that for the users, it’s a much more pleasant experience, but unfortunately it becomes harder in that.
That’s that world to differentiate yourself. The way to do it is through making sure that your entity or your brand is so closely aligned to the entities that are. That, that are relevant to, to your marketplace that you almost appear in that conversation of numbers of ideas. You can’t mention Hoover, I was gonna say, can’t mention Hoovers without Dysons, but there, Hoover and Dyson is a, neither of those are a vacuum cleaner.
They are both brands that are so closely associated that I use both. When describing a vacuum cleaner, that’s what I want to do for brands. That’s what brands need to strive to do because then we just get into, we get into our customers conversations and only our customers conversations. So if you’re not our customer, you probably wouldn’t use the word, but if you are our customer, it doesn’t matter what the product is, but if you are your, if you’re, you want your customers to use your word as a verb.
And and that is probably the succinct way of describing entity ss e o, .
Shelley Walsh: I, I certainly find it very interesting with how you suggest me saying entities. It’s becomes very much then a global, it’s language agnostic. Yes. And you can see now with Google’s ambition to opening up into our markets globally and obviously expanding and becoming.
So one global so to have an entity that would be the same throughout all languages certainly is very future thinking, future forward, isn’t it?
Dixon Jones: It is and isn’t because a horse has always been a horse. Regardless of what language you used it. So as human beings, we’ve always looked at a house and known it’s a house.
Doesn’t matter whether we don’t speak English or not. We know a house is a house. We just use different label for it. So these things are, these words that we use are just labels for the underlying thing. And that’s always been the way I think. So it’s future thinking compared to PageRank, but it’s not future thinking.
When you think about how the human brain works. Yeah. I
Shelley Walsh: mean, I was thinking it’s future thinking in terms of search terms, but yeah, absolutely. It’s interesting how it is now going back and reverting to, as you say, looking at the underlying and a very much more natural replication of how the brain works, which is very
Dixon Jones: interesting.
We find, at InLinks anyway, we find the hardest part is actually that first bit of being able to read a page of text and then understand the underlying concept. So I can’t, we can work in the Latin alphabet. So InLinks works pretty well in English, French, German, Spanish, Italian.
We have got no idea how to do it in Chinese because the sentence, it could, the sentence structure is completely different. It’s it’s it’s a different our natural language processing algorithm doesn’t work so well. So we could, in theory, translate it into English first using machine translation and then do that.
That’s fine. And actually, that does work for us understanding and creating a knowledge graph for a piece of content. It doesn’t help when we then try and then do internal linking back to those entities. So we can’t necessarily say, Oh, this page is about this entity. We know these entities are on there.
We don’t quite get it right. But on the whole, yeah it’s. It’s a, it’s much easier to do SEO to be a search engine in all languages, I think using entities than it is using sort of old style Ngrams and those kinds of ideas and you create one thing and you can pretty much launch it in any language, I would imagine for most things.
So they’re gonna, they’re, they’ll love it. And also the other thing that I think a search engine loves. And I’m not a Google, but the thing that they must find a relief in that, in this paradigm of using entities is that the number of web pages, that’s going to be even more with ChatGPT, OpenAI and ChatGPT, the number of web pages that are getting created every day is.
Loads, lots, a lot. So the absolute number of pages on the internet is going up probably still logarithmically. Certainly, still going on that. Whereas the number of concepts in the world is pretty much the same. Okay. Somebody will invent something. It will go up, and things, it’s but the number of concepts is the same.
So if you organize the world’s information by the number of pages on the internet, then you’re going to have to keep on building more and more machines. Okay. If you organize the world’s information by the number of ideas in the world, then frankly, all of those pages they have created only need to actually be a reference when they’re going to come back in a search result.
So you’re not going to need most of those. So turn out crap, it’s never even going to make it into the system. Is there any new information here? No. Okay, fine. We’ll come back when there is, so links may come back for the discovery part of it, or for the it’s good enough now to be cited as a resource.
But if it hasn’t got any new information, it won’t even get into the system. But you’re not losing any information or not losing much information by keeping that those pages, the crappy pages completely out of the index, as long as you’ve got a map of the world that’s accurate and your algorithm can pick up new ideas in those pages, then it’s only going to start bringing in pages that add new ideas to the knowledge graph.
So I think it, it scales better. I think a knowledge based approach, entity based approach to the world’s information scales better than a, how many pages on the internet based approach. Yeah,
Shelley Walsh: I can see that. And it’s obviously much more economical as well.
Dixon Jones: It’s gotta be, hasn’t it? Oh no, they’re talking, hundreds of billions.
And, but yeah, it’s gotta be. Yeah.
Shelley Walsh: When did you what was the reason you actually left Majestic? I got,
Dixon Jones: I got old. I got old and tired. I I needed a break. I’d been there about 10 years. I needed a break and the guys were really nice to me. I said, they said, they gave me a years.
Sort of gardening leave really, where I could just calm down and just relax. But I, and I stayed in a, involved as a sort of global brand ambassador role which was really nice of them, but I didn’t have to get involved in, the heavy lifting of decision making and things.
So I guess I just, yeah. 10 years, it appears is about my limit for being in a company every 10 years or so I’ve got to move. And so all back I just, I wasn’t adding too much to the, to, to the company. And there’s a. Majestic also put me through an M B A. So thank you very much, majestic.
And and one of the things that came outta the M B A was the businesses, people that are involved in businesses, up to 20 people is it, is one level of business. As the business grows beyond that, then those founders then have some very difficult decisions to make. Because just at the point at which you are suddenly finding that there’s.
Plenty of cash in the bank for you, and there’s cash flow and it’s okay. It’s the day that you don’t want anything to change anymore. But it’s also the time that all those people that had helped you with those 20 want to go and, turn the world into a into something completely different.
So they want to grow at the point at which people lower in an organization might want to just. Sorry, the originators of the organization might want to say, Oh, I just don’t want anybody to have any decisions. Now. We just want to carry on. And I think that dichotomy is a change in management style at that point.
And I’m not good at it. This is another reason why I don’t want to ever work in a large organization, unless you can put me in a satellite operation where I’m reasonably in control of my job. Six to 10 people then I’m okay. But if you ask me to start running an organization with 50 people in it, you have to question whether I’ve got much experience in that because every business I’ve set up may have turned into a fairly good substantial business, but at some point you should probably kick Dixon off of the And out of the boat.
So hopefully that’ll happen with InLinks as well. And we’ll get up to about 20 people and we’ll make somebody else a c e o and I can maybe, hang around as c waving the flag for a few years and and then I can gracefully dissipate, .
Shelley Walsh: How long have you been at links?
Dixon Jones: We started in so we, so I, we’ve got four years, four or five years already.
So I think we started just before COVID. So when did COVID start properly?
Shelley Walsh: 2020
Dixon Jones: March was three years ago. So in thousand 19. Yeah. So 2019 as, yeah, so the limited company started, it was formed in August, 2019. And then we got the website out around about November of that year. And and and then Covid hit, which was all very interesting.
A actually turned out really well for me because Cause I am definitely a co founder of Inlinks cause I, so Fred had spent seven years building this thing before I met him. But then so had Alex at Majestic. I’ve learned that the best thing for a marketing person to do in this in, in, on the the digital and then world of digital is make sure that the programmers have more shares than you do.
That’s the the trick for me. Because then they don’t leave. And developers leaving is what brings down pretty much every organization that I’ve seen. So you don’t want the developers leaving. So I’m a I’m the investor in inlinks. And and that meant that. I ended up being the CEO as well.
I thought I was going to be the CMO. I thought I was going to be the marketing director. I hadn’t really quite worked it all out, there’s only me and Fred at the time. And Fred doesn’t want to be managing director. That’s the last thing he wanted. So my job at Inlynx was just. At the start and still is to a large extent, make sure that Fred can program.
So take every other headache away from him so I can build the organization out. But the whole objective is to keep Fred and now Fred and his team, development team focused on development and out of the politics and the marketing and the stuff that gets in the head of developers. Don’t know about that.
Did that answer your question? Probably not.
Shelley Walsh: Yeah. So I was just calculating that you’ve got to 2029 before you’ll move on to something else.
Dixon Jones: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. So I want to to, but I’m getting older and wiser. So now I take Fridays off. I don’t work on Fridays. I’m not out to try and Oh yeah, I’m trying to just make sure I don’t burn out quite as quickly as I’m getting 10 years is long time to blow out, burn out, but I’m taking life a little bit.
Easier. I’m older, I’m wiser and need to go and walk in the hills a bit more. So Fridays does that for me. Oh, yeah. I
Shelley Walsh: can’t wait to get to that point in a few years.
Dixon Jones: It’s nice. It’s nice, but when you do it, you suddenly find, so if you go too far over the edge and decide that you just wanna stop, that’s really bad.
That’s so when I stopped working day to day at Majestic and thinking I was, retiring about two months into that, my wife Marie just said. Dixon, that house on the edge of the village? Can we go and get that one? And I said, I can’t afford that one. She said, I know that was it.
That was my my signal to get out from under her feet and go and go and do the whole damn thing again. So maybe retirement is not for me.
Shelley Walsh: Me neither. So looking back to when you started out and. 95 with your murder mystery gig. Oh, by the way, I have to ask you this. Do you regret not buying murder mystery.
Dixon Jones: Probably because it was probably only about a hundred pounds. So probably I would have been okay, but now it seems to have gone full circle. Now I think a domain name is pretty the only thing that’s really important about a domain name is that you can’t spell it wrong. That’s the most important thing.
If you can have the dot com and you can’t misspell it, that’s that, those are the two, two important things. Yeah, I guess I could probably have done quite a lot with murder mystery. com.
Shelley Walsh: But going back to 95 and do you think looking forwards now sorry, looking back now, but if you went back to 95, do you, did you think that your trajectory would have taken the same path as it has, or are you quite happy with the fact that you’ve just gone from a series of businesses?
Dixon Jones: I think I don’t think I’m pretty happy. I think I stuck with most businesses. I had a few other trials and failures along the way. But none of the failures were critical, I never. Got VC money in where it was needed, or I never, took huge amounts of cash.
I was always a big believer in in the, the British shopkeepers approach, it’s fine. If you make 50 pence in a day, it’s terrible. If you lose 50 pence in a day, whether that 50 percent turns into 50 million is secondary to the fact that you’ve got to make a profit.
Before you can make more profits. And I didn’t, I never understood the, the west coast of America, a VC kind of approach to doing business where it didn’t seem to matter whether you made a profit or not, it was just whether you had enough cash and there was no consideration as to whose cash it was, was it your cash? Was it the company’s profits or was it the or was it a VC’s cash or, or your suppliers from a credit? I dunno, I didn’t understand any of that. So I’m pretty glad that I never went down the VC route. In in, in big, in a big way. So I’m happy with where I’ve got a nice big, biggish house, a Mustang car, it’s good and a little orange car as well.
Kit car. So yeah, so that’s all I need.
Shelley Walsh: Would you say that you’re, do you love search? Are you all about search or are you all about business?
Dixon Jones: I am, no, I am about search, but I think that search I think most SEOs are way too narrow in what they understand search to be. Search is very much about.
a user having a problem and trying to find a person having a problem and you having a solution. And it’s that journey from that person having that problem to finding you as a solution. And I think it, it does take into, it should take into account, how somebody learns through Facebook friends or how it learns through Twitter or how they learn through brands.
Advertising and all those other methodologies, I think that search engine optimization is also about Facebook optimization. It’s about, open AI optimization. It’s about all of these other digital in particular channels to market, but I think that most SEOs get so hung up on your, just your content on your page and not about the the wider implications of that, and SEOs.
Always on Twitter we all do it, including me, going to your, going and saying, Hey, my customer is just changed this website without telling me and stuff like, oh, you lost your battle as an SEO a long time before that happened, frankly, because you. Probably shouldn’t have called yourself an SEO.
You should have called yourself an internet marketing consultant. And and maybe that’s our biggest mistake. SEOs should call themselves internet marketing consultants, not SEOs, because we narrow ourselves too much. And our game should be about understanding that interplay between different routes to market.
So yes, that’s where the enterprise comes in.
Shelley Walsh: Just very, I think probably about time to wrap up now. We’ve always been talking for quite a while. Just some little bit of information I found. It’s a little bit random. Is it true you visited Buckingham Palace
Dixon Jones: twice? I did, yes, with Majestic won two Queen’s Awards for industry one for, one for innovation and then the second year we won it for export because most of Majestic’s sales are overseas and the Queen’s Award, you get to go to Buckingham Palace and yes, the Queen’s there And, but a lot of other members of the royal family and yeah, special day for sure.
I didn’t talk to the queen. I’ve had a telling off from princess Anne. And and also Talking to the, to Princess Michael of Kent. So I spent a lot of time talking to Princess Michael of Kent. I’ll tell you about the the telling off by Princess Anne. ’cause it’s more interesting, which wasn’t, it was the same award.
But the, when we won the export award, we also went to the to the inter export the industry of export. Conference to celebrate the people that won the export award for the Queen’s award. Anyway, Princess Anne was there. And she was basically there and I was in one of those line outs where I was the Royal line out.
And so I got to the front of the queue because I thought that would be a good thing to do. I’m quite glad I did really, because it turned out to, take quite a long time to get through the queue. Anyway, she came up and I knew she was going to ask me so what do you do? And I had to come up with a snappy answer.
So I I was ready and she did. She came up and they introduced. And so what, and what do you do? Majestic. I said we’re like a scrappy Google. And without missing a beat, she said, you are not a scrappy Google. You’re a jewel in the British Empire’s crown or something. It’s jewel in the British crown.
And and and I thought, exactly why you’re here. And I’ve just been, smacked by royalty, really smacked down by royalty and quite rightly too. I’m not a scrappy Google, we’re a search engine in our own right.
Shelley Walsh: Absolutely. Yeah. Majestic is one of the most.
Dixon Jones: I think it’s still got a lot of potential, but I don’t have much say in it today. Let’s let’s hope so I think it’s one of the
Shelley Walsh: most well respected foundational tools in SEO for sure.
Dixon Jones: It definitely was built from first principles. I was certainly the guys built the thing, I’ve seen them build the the servers.
Shelley Walsh: Dixon, we’ve obviously been talking for quite a while now, and I guess it’s probably about time to wrap up. Unless…
Dixon Jones: Thank you ever so much for the for the invitation. I’ve really enjoyed the chat. I’m sure you’re going to have to cut, half of this, but anyway please thank you very much for having me on.
I, I really have enjoyed
Shelley Walsh: it. It’s thank you for being one of my pioneers.